Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Making of a Wedding Cake

There is one thing I love about my job... Golden Fridays! 17 times per year we get the Friday off... I try to use this day to do absolutely nothing important or necessary... unless of course I have a cake to bake or I'm having people over for dinner the next day and I have the chance to get ahead.

Today is one of those days! I have a wedding cake to do for tomorrow. It'll be simple but elegant. Three tiers of white cake covered in vanilla buttercream icing and draped with white fondant. As decoration, white and turquoise ribbons and fresh flowers.

So... this is the story of how a wedding cake gets made!

First bake the layers and layers of cakes!

Once they've cooled... time to make the buttercream icing... and I'm gonna needs lots of it! The important thing is to really whip the butter - whip it until it is as white as possible - a good 10 minutes aught to take care of it! Here's where a stand mixer would come in handy.

My basic buttercream recipe, which I have been making for the past 16 years or so (picked out of an old "Australian Woman's Weekly - Children's Birthday Cake Book" is:

Buttercream Icing

1/2 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups icing (powder) sugar
4 tbsp milk at room temperature (could vary depending on the weather - I go 1 tbsp at a time)
1 tsp pure vanilla (none of that fake crap)

Cream butter with stand mixer for a good 10 minutes until it is as white as can be.
Sift in 1 cup of icing sugar and add 1 tbsp milk at a time.
Mix in completely before adding more.
Add in extra milk if consistency is too thick.
Blend in vanilla

See how white the butter it became?

Now, it's very important - especially when making a wedding cake, to ensure the layers are even. The tops must be cut off to give a perfectly flat surface... I have this nifty little saw that can be adjusted - the perfect way to ensure each layer is the same height!

The second important thing to do is to smooth on a crumb layer on the cake. This seals in the crumbs and after refrigeration, the second layer of icing goes on "smooth like buttah"!

Now the fondant layer... requires some dexterity but frankly, I may not win any competitions on "Challenge" on The Food Network, but I think I do pretty OK!

Here are the three layers just waiting for assmbly!

Now... time to put the whole thing together!

OK, but kinda drab
Much better!

Lots of time and effort but I am pretty pleased with the final result... Hopefully the bride is as well!

Delivered and added some greenery.  This is the final result!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Graduation time again

Holy mackerel! Am I glad that is over!

Graduation time is finally over and I think I'm starting to be a tad less exhausted.... cookies, cakes, cookies, cakes, icing, candies, put it together, hope it's decent, truly hope the kids/parents/teachers love it all....

I thought I was going to fall apart there. Lisa (my sister) tells me her school will order 2 cakes for the kindergarten graduation and, if I thought I could, she would order the cookies "sur mesure" (i.e. hair and eyes match the kids they are named for!!!) from her to each kid. I figure, "why not?"

Next thing I know, there are four more cakes for grade 6 graduation PLUS a special cake just for the grads themselves. This includes candies of mortar boards and diplomas... 37 grads. For Wednesday night. I figure, I'll start early and have plenty of time. Right. I have one mould and in said mould, there are two (2) mortar boards and two (2) diplomas.... Hmmm...
should be do-able, I'll start on the Monday for the Wednesday evening delivery....

Make-believe scenario: melt the candy melts, tint them the appropriate colour and let's go. Right. True scenario: Melt the candy, paint the tassel white, paint the ribbon red, pour in the white to fill in the the diplomas, pour in the blue to fill in the mortar boards. Place in fridge to set. Wait. Re-melt candies that have hardened and proceed as before... Three hours into it and a mere 20 pairs are done... Meanwhile, I'm baking. I'm baking two layers at a time for each of the cakes. Thank goodness I've got two ovens. The base is 12" X 18" and the top is two 9" X 13" cakes that, once put on top of the base, will look like an open book. Piece of cake! No pun intended, of course. I've got 3 of the 4 basic cakes done and a mere 20 pairs of candies. Gotta get to bed - got lots of time tomorrow...

Tuesday, start working right away when I get home from work at 4:00 p.m. I have one more "big cake" to bake plus the grad cake. In between the baking, I'll start icing the oth
er cakes. I figure these will be easy as I'm not going too crazy on the decorating.... Two are chocolate cakes with chocolate icing and two are vanilla with vanilla icing. A few flowers here and there, a "Congrats Class of 2010" and we're done.

Not so fast.

I only have a standard Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and can only do the equivalent of one pound of butter with six cups of icing sugar at a time. Enough to spread between the layers of one cake and apply a thin crumb coat to the rest of the cake! Damn! I manage to ice all four cakes and bake the grad cake and finish the candies but must quit because it is now 1:30 a.m. and I can't do any more.


Back home at 4:00 p.m. and it's crunch time! Two hours to finish the grad cake! Yikes! Create a red mortar board by coveri
ng a smaller cake plate with red fondant. Ice cake, place mortar board on cake and place all 37 candy diplomas and mortar boards around the cake. Crap! Have to write the names of each grad as well!

Finish with time to take pics before pick-up!
Lisa shows up at 6:15 p.m. Phew....

After going to my karate class (Prepare the dough because not only do I have the Boucherville Elementary School order, I have promised Iain (my son) 53 cookies for his graduation on Thursday evening!

So, now I can concentrate on the cookies for Iain's class as well as start work on the cakes for the kindergarten graduation due for Friday morning at 8:00... balderdash.

I bake all 53 cookies and one of the two cakes and decide to prepare the royal icing for tomorrow - smart move. Finish working at 12:30 a.m. Need to sleep. Have to be at work for 7:30 a.m.

Thursday. Get home from work at 4:00 p.m. Ice all 53 cookies including writing all the names. Get to the graduation for 6:00. Are told it will last 1/2 hour. Lasts 1.5 hours. Leave Iain to party, go say "hi" to fellow high school grads (don't things always get booked on the same night?), have a glass and a half of wine, am picked up at 8:55 p.m. to go pick up graduate son as party is over. Go back to baking and icing and whatnot.

Have a Golden Friday so I don't have to go to work.... instead, work on kindergarten stuff until
3:30 a.m.! I must admit I am pleased. The two cakes look lovely, I have created fondant butterflies (their theme for the year) and each and every cookie represents the child it has been
named for: blond hair, blue eyes; brown hair, green eyes, etc.

All is ready for pick-up at 8:00 by Lisa.... phew!

My sister Tracy takes pity on me and invites me for breakfast. Can I say no? Hell no! I'll fall down later!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

No egg, no milk, no nuts

Boy oh boy....

Only for a friend do I do these types of cakes now. It causes too much stress in my own home! Ensuring all the equipment I use is safe, that all the ingredients have not come into contact with any of the "allergic" foods.... My greatest fear is that I get a phone call after the party telling me an epi-pen had to come out.... Hasn't yet and will not ever!

That said, I made this lovely "Butterfly" cake for VĂ©ronique who turns 10 tomorrow. I hope she's happy with it!

Ended up being a good thing to deliver it to the dojo... more of my business cards got distributed....

Friday, April 2, 2010

Finally... My first blog!

I've been wanting to do this for some time now... never seemed to find the right moment and wasn't quite sure where to start.

Enough procrastinating already! Just jump in!

This is where I will share my stuff with you! Whether it's one of my cakes, some new recipe I've tried (or created), some book I've just read or just a thought!

For now, I'll just introduce myself. My name is Dale, I am married to Mick and have two boys named Iain and Aidan.

Though I work in administration, my true love is cooking and entertaining. The more oohhs and aahhs I have when I showcase my goodies, the better! Sorry folks, I AM in it for the glory. What else would the point be? If there is no one to share it with, why bother?

So, coming really soon will be some snippets, photos and insights which I hope won't bore you to tears!